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Ugly Criminals

  • Mocan, Naci

    ()

    (Louisiana State University)

  • Tekin, Erdal

    ()

    (American University)

Using data from three waves of Add Health we find that being very attractive reduces a young adult's (ages 18-26) propensity for criminal activity and being unattractive increases it for a number of crimes, ranging from burglary to selling drugs. A variety of tests demonstrate that this result is not because beauty is acting as a proxy for socio-economic status. Being very attractive is also positively associated adult vocabulary test scores, which suggests the possibility that beauty may have an impact on human capital formation. We demonstrate that, especially for females, holding constant current beauty, high school beauty (pre-labor market beauty) has a separate impact on crime, and that high school beauty is correlated with variables that gauge various aspects of high school experience, such as GPA, suspension or having being expelled from school, and problems with teachers. These results suggest two handicaps faced by unattractive individuals. First, a labor market penalty provides a direct incentive for unattractive individuals toward criminal activity. Second, the level of beauty in high school has an effect on criminal propensity 7-8 years later, which seems to be due to the impact of the level of beauty in high school on human capital formation, although this second avenue seems to be effective for females only.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2048.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Economics and Statistics, 2010, 92 (1), 15 - 30
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2048
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  1. Jeff Grogger, 1997. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," NBER Working Papers 5983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Janet Currie & Enrico Moreti, 2005. "Biology As Destiny? Short And Long-Run Determinants Of Intergenerational Transmission Of Birth Weight," Working Papers id:194, eSocialSciences.
  3. Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," Working Papers 200718, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  4. Mocan, Naci & Tekin, Erdal, 2003. "Guns, Drugs and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from a Panel of Siblings and Twins," IZA Discussion Papers 932, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Mobius, Markus & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2010. "Why Beauty Matters," Staff General Research Papers Archive 32112, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  6. H. Naci Mocan & Daniel I. Rees, 2005. "Economic Conditions, Deterrence and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 319-349.
  7. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. H. Naci Mocan & Stephen C. Billups & Jody Overland, 2005. "A Dynamic Model of Differential Human Capital and Criminal Activity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(288), pages 655-681, November.
  9. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Meng, Xin & Zhang, Junsen, 2002. "Dress for success--does primping pay?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 361-373, July.
  10. Laura Argys & Naci Mocan, 2003. "Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die? An Analysis of Prisoners on Death Row in the United States," NBER Working Papers 9507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. David N. Figlio, 2005. "Names, Expectations and the Black-White Test Score Gap," NBER Working Papers 11195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Mocan, H Naci & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Guns and Juvenile Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 507-31, October.
  13. Jeff E. Biddle & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1995. "Beauty, Productivity and Discrimination: Lawyers' Looks and Lucre," NBER Working Papers 5366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  15. Harper, Barry, 2000. " Beauty, Stature and the Labour Market: A British Cohort Study," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 62(0), pages 771-800, Special I.
  16. Kuhn, Peter & Weinberger, Catherine, 2003. "Leadership Skills and Wages," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt50q3c9n1, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  17. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
  18. Steven D. Levitt, 1997. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," NBER Working Papers 6191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. H. Naci Mocan & Hope Corman, 2000. "A Time-Series Analysis of Crime, Deterrence, and Drug Abuse in New York City," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 584-604, June.
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